To see the bold headline of Moveon.org’s ad (both the NY Times’ version and the online version are at http://pol.moveon.org/petraeus.html) about General Petraeus, one would expect a rant from a leftist Ann Coulter. But once you read the fine print, you realize that Moveon.org provides a point by point argument contesting General Petraeus’s expected testimony (the online version includes an excellent list of references including the GAO report, the NIE estimate, the Jones report, the AP, the NY Times, Newsweek, and the Washington Post).
Now compare Moveon’s advertisements against Petraeus with Rudi’s ad supporting General Petraeus (http://newsbusters.org/blogs/brent-baker/2007/09/14/gibson-implies-giulianis-ad-nastier-move-ons-betray-us-ad) and ask yourself, which ad is worse for America? The answer would seem to be a no-brainer. How can an ad that supports an honorable military officer be worse than a negative one? Examining General Petraeus’ account of the surge could help provide an answer..
For example, General Petraeus addressed the discrepancies that exist between his and the GAO reports. He told the committee that the GAO statistics did not include data from the last 5 weeks. This is fair enough. But the General’s statement was also missing information. For example, in describing the success of the surge in obtaining cooperation from the Sunnis in Anbar Province, Petraeus neglected to mention how we were arming both Sunni insurgents in Iraq and the Saudi Arabian government. The first question becomes how much of the new Sunni cooperation was due to their splurge in obtaining weapons? The next question becomes how much will the selling of these weapons cost us in the future?
What General Petraeus also failed to mention was that, since 2005, polls have shown that the majority of Iraqis want us to get out. Back in 2005, a British Ministry of Defense poll said that approximately 80% of the people wanted our military to leave. Subsequent polls have only confirmed that most Iraqis want us out.
Those who support the surge will answer by saying that the troops hear otherwise from the Iraqis. This is fair enough. But what Michael Ware recently told Anderson Cooper on CNN was that what the Iraqis say in the presence of U.S. troops is often different that what they will say when the troops are absent.
Another point must be made regarding General Petraeus’s contested assessment of the surge. That is that much of what Iraq’s needs to succeed as a country are unrelated to American military success. An obstacle to Iraq’s success is the proposed policy regarding Iraq oil. What the U.S. wants is an oil revenue sharing law that requires the Kurds and the Shi’ites to share oil profits with the Sunnis, who dominated them for decades, while the Sunnis are not required to share anything in return—true conservatives would denounce this as “socialism” if they were doing the sharing. In addition, the U.S. is demanding that Iraq allow American and British oil companies to develop and control much of its undeveloped oil reserves. This control of their oil reserves is opposed by both the majority of the people and the Iraqi government. What Iraq needs the most is help that comes with no strings attached. The “no strings attached” was never a part of the U.S. plan even before the invasion of Iraq because we had planned to use Iraqi oil to pay our corporations for reconstruction.
And perhaps the most serious problem is that General Petraeus’s report does not address how our War On Iraq fits into the overall War On Terror. A recent study from Peter Bergen and Paul Cruikshank reports that terrorism has increased since the invasion of Iraq (http://www.motherjones.com/news/featurex/2007/03/iraq_effect_1.html). What makes this ominous is that instead of merely the Iraq War resembling our failure in Vietnam, it could be the War On Terror itself.
So what about Guiliani’s ad supporting General Petraeus? It certainly is not negative. So how could it be more harmful to us than the Moveon.org ad against Petraeus?
Guiliani has nothing but praise for General Petraeus. But what is obvious is that Guiliani prefers that we trust Petraeus without examining his claims. This approach by Guiliani proves that 9-11 has not changed everything—Guiliani is as authoritarian as ever.
Guiliani’s desire that we do not criticize authority figures comes to us as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The sheep’s clothing is the pleasantness in his lack of negativity in the ad. The wolf is authoritarianism. Regardless of the merits of General Petraeus’s character, to unquestionably accept anyone’s assessment and recommendations is to give that person too much credit and power. It is too much credit because no human is without fault. It is too much power because we know that power corrupts. And not many people voluntarily surrender power once they have acquired it. In addition, placing too much trust in authority figures is the same mistake we and Congress made when giving President Bush permission to invade.
Perhaps we could do without Moveon.org's bold headlines. But at least their ad is an is an exercise in democracy. It is a democracy that Guiliani attempts to shame us out of when he denounces Moveon's ad and proposes that we accept Petraeus's statements as loyal soldiers.